Global Covid-19 cases pass 250 million as Europe outbreak worsens
- Cases still rising in 55 out of 240 countries, many in Europe
- The global Covid-19 death toll surpassed 5 million on November 1
More than 250 million Covid-19 cases have been recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Globally, more than five million deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded so far, but the vast majority of those infected have recovered. Some, however, have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later.
The latest data on Monday comes as the pace of daily Covid-19 cases has started to pick up again since mid-October, with some European countries reporting surges in daily figures.
The World Health Organization has warned of potential outbreaks involving new variants of the coronavirus if the uptrend in infection cases continues.
Worldwide, the total number of Covid-19 infections topped 100 million in January and reached 200 million in August.
The daily average number of cases has fallen by 36 per cent over the past three months, according to a Reuters analysis, but the virus is still infecting 50 million people worldwide every 90 days due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Health experts were optimistic that many nations have put the worst of the pandemic behind them thanks to vaccines and natural exposure, although they caution that colder weather and upcoming holiday gatherings could increase cases.
“We think between now and the end of 2022, this is the point where we get control over this virus … where we can significantly reduce severe disease and death,” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said.
Infections were still rising in 55 out of 240 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Greece at or near record levels of reported cases since the pandemic started two years ago, according to a Reuters analysis.
Eastern Europe has among the lowest vaccination rates in the region. More than half of all new infections reported worldwide were from countries in Europe, with a million new infections about every four days, according to the analysis.
Global Covid-19 death toll passes 5 million, but experts say actual number is much higher
Several Russian regions said this week they could impose additional restrictions or extend a workplace shutdown as the country witnesses record deaths due to the disease.
On Monday Russia reported 39,400 new Covid-19 cases, including nearly 5,000 in Moscow alone.
In Germany, too, despite much higher levels of vaccination, the infection rate rose to its highest level since the start of the pandemic and doctors said they would need to postpone scheduled operations in coming weeks to cope.
Denmark, which has one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates, plans to reintroduce some restrictions to halt a recent spike in cases.
In contrast, Japan recorded no daily deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday for the first time in more than a year, local media said. Vaccinations have increased now to cover more than 70 per cent of Japan’s population.
Several world leaders have stressed the need to improve vaccination programmes, particularly in the poorest countries.
Improving vaccine access will be on the agenda of meetings of the powerful Asia-Pacific trade group Apec, hosted virtually by New Zealand this week.
The WHO and other aid groups last month appealed to leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies to fund a US$23.4 billion plan to bring Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and drugs to poorer countries in the next 12 months.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters and Bloomberg